One thing I’ll say about being on a limited budget… skills and fitness beats fancy equipment any day of the week. Case in point… I was struggling on some rock gardens one day on my FS 29’er when a guy comes bee-bopping down the same trail on a hardtail rigid (no fork even!) 26" with rim brakes. That bike was older than Jesus and yet the guy passed me on my fancy-pants rig like it was effortless. His bike probably weighed 10 lbs more than mine but he knew how to use what he had. What a humbling moment! Note to self… it’s NOT about the bike… So don’t despair if you don’t have top notch equipment or the lightest bike to hit the planet. Ride well and ride smart and you will humiliate the punks on their $6,000 rigs.